Since the original collectible card game's debut in 1993, Magic: The Gathering has been a hit and an enduring favourite with part of the gaming community. Along with regular releases of new cards, there have been M:TG books, comics and, of course, video games.
Duels of the Planeswalkers is M:TG's latest game adaptation and was originally released on Xbox LIVE Arcade halfway through last year to a relatively warm reception. It set out to replicate the Magic experience for Xbox 360 owners (and in particular, those new to the game), and has recently been ported to the PC.
For better or for worse, very little has changed in the year since its original XBLA release. Duels is essentially a straight adaptation of the collectible card game with an eye towards new players. Information about relevant rules is fed to the player throughout the game, and a large number of pre-built decks (collections of cards) are included. However, players cannot customise their decks beyond including or excluding unlocked cards.
Again, this is both a good and a bad thing. While the customisable nature of M:TG is a huge part of the game’s draw, the pre-built decks help with placing newcomers to the game and experienced players on a much more even keel.
The single player AI is competent and online matchmaking is available, if somewhat fl aky. Unfortunately, there is no online co-op mode and the only way to communicate in multiplayer is by voice. The music also gets rather annoying after a while. However, these issues are relatively minor.
If you are interested in playing Magic: The Gathering and wish to get a taste of the gameplay fi rst, then this is absolutely a mustplay. However, experienced players will not be missing much here.